Albumen silver print from a collodion glass negative
Image: 23.4 x 18.3 cm (9 3/16 x 7 3/16 in.)
Mount: 40.1 × 27.5 cm (15 13/16 × 10 13/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005
Not on view
Le Gray's photograph of Eugénie, wife of Emperor Napoleon III, was apparently intended as an aid to Thomas Couture for a large (and never completed) painting commemorating the baptism of Eugénie's son, the prince imperial. Le Gray, or perhaps Couture himself, posed the empress kneeling at a prie-dieu in the château at Saint-Cloud, elegantly trimmed in white tulle, and set against a dark ground; she plays perfectly her public and private roles, dignified and contemplative, imperial and maternal, in a private space amid imagined ceremony.
Inscription: Inscribed in black ink on original mount (in the hand of Abbé Misset), recto TL: "Autour du Prince Impérial"; TC: "S.M. l'Impératrice"; Inscribed in pencil on original mount, BR below photograph: "De toute rareté. // EM"; Inscribed in red pencil on mount, recto TL: "X"; black ink stamp on original mount, verso TL: "5531"; Blue ink stamp on mount, verso BL: "5531"
Gustave Le Gray; Abbé Misset, Paris; [Lunn Gallery, Washington, DC]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 31, 1983
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," June 4, 1987–August 16, 1987.
Art Institute of Chicago. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," September 18, 1987–December 6, 1987.
University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara. "The Image of Desire: Femininity, Modernity and the Birth of Mass Culture in 19th Century France," October 4, 1994–December 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Howard Gilman Gallery: Inaugural Installation," October 16, 1997–February 1, 1998.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Napoleon III and Paris," June 9–September 7, 2009.
Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 32.
Parry Janis, Eugenia. The Photography of Gustave Le Gray. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1987. p. 110, pp. 108–109 [variant images].
Aubenas, Sylvie. Gustave Le Gray, 1820–1884. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 2002. no. pl. 156, p. 134 [variant images also on pp. 132–133].
Aubenas, Sylvie. Gustave Le Gray. New York: Phaidon Press, 2003. no. pl. 156, p. 134 [variant images also on pp. 132–133].